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Internet Drug News'

Antihistamine Database 
Internet Drug News 
Explanation of how antihistamines work, side effects, antidotes, etc.

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SOLTARA (tecastemizole Sepracor)
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Antihistamines are interesting compounds.  Structurally, classical
antihistamines resemble local anesthetics such as benzocaine or
novacaine. 

How Do Antihistamines work?

Antihistamines are the antidote to exposure to histamine.  As their name
implies, antihistamines are able to block the effects of histamine in your
body.  [You should think of antihistamines as being the bouncer at
a club].

When histamine molecules get onto the surface of the cell, they cause
inflammation and irritation.   

Antihistamines displace the histamine molecules from the cell and form
a protective shield around the cells so that histamine can not interact
with the cell to cause an allergic reaction.

Example

Let's say that you are allergic to the perfume in a lotion, but you get
some on your skin by accident.  You break out in an itchy rash where
the lotion touched your skin. 

What is happening is that the perfume in the lotion caused the cells in
your body to release histamine.  The histamine gets onto the surface
of your skin cells and causes an itchy rash. What do you do?

You take a dose of antihistamine such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
or Allegra (fexofenidine).  The antihistamine acts like a bouncer.  It kicks
the histamine off of the skin cells and prevents the histamine from
reacting to cause inflammation, redness and itch.

Within minutes the rash should subside and the itching go away.

What is histamine and why is it bad?

When you get an allergic reaction, a cascade of events takes place in
your body that results in the release of a substance know as
" histamine" .  You can think of histamine as being the " bad guy" in
an allergic reaction.

Histamine causes inflammation.  Histamine is very irritating to the body.
If you injected a tiny bit of pure histamine into your skin, the result is
that you would likely see a welt or a rash. 

When you are exposed to something that you are allergic to, the resulting
release of histamine can cause in an itchy rash, a welt, itchy eyes,
watery eyes, a runny nose, etc.

There is a severe, life threatening form of allergic reaction known as
anaphylactic shock. 

For instance, if you are highly allergic to  something like peanuts or
enicillin, and you are exposed to this thing that you are allergic to,
your body can react severely.

Your tongue and throat may swell up, you may experience a severe
rash all over your body and you may go into shock.

Side Effects

The most common side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness.  In fact,
drug companies often use antihistamines ( such as
diphenhydramine
or Benadryl
) as an over-the-counter sleeping pill.   

However, the early 1990's, scientists developed antihistamines (Allegra,
Claritin) that did not cause drowsiness at the recommended doses. 
These drugs are expensive and were available by prescription only at first. 

Zyrtec is another relatively recent antihistamine, but it is known to
cause more drowsiness than Claritin or Allegra.  That is why your
druggist may attach a drowsiness warning label to your bottle of Zyrtec.


Other Uses Of Antihistamines

The other main use of antihistamines is to cause sleepiness. 

Drug makers add a small amount of antihistamine (usually 25 mg or 50
mg of diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl) to pain
killers and call the resulting concoction the "PM" version of the drug.

For example, Tylenol PM is simply tylenol with  a pinch of antihistamine
added to induce sleepiness.  Midol PM is Midol with a pinch of
antihistamine added to cause drowsiness.

There is also Excedrin PM, Anacin PM, Legatrin PM, etc.


Editors' Suggestions:


You may be interested in visiting:

American Academy Of Family Practice Physicians report regarding
antihistamines: description of, warnings, etc.

Antihistamines, Decongestants, and Analgesics (Systemic) -- Mayo Clinic;
list of, description, doses of, etc.

ENT Information

News Related to Allergies - (from Google)

Drug Information Database Page



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